Could Your Plastic Water Bottle Make You Fatter?
It may be difficult to imagine how your plastic water bottle could make you fatter. However, new research has shown that the plastics component BPS (bisphenol S), which was designed to replace BPA (bisphenol A) in food and beverage packaging, enhances the development of fat cells in humans and seems to have as many health concerns as its predecessor.
Why plastic water bottles can be harmful
Perhaps you remember how the plastics component BPA was linked to serious health concerns and thus largely eliminated from plastic infant bottles and sippy cups as well as from many water and other beverage bottles and food containers. That’s because studies in animals and humans of this hormone disruptor have indicated that BPA is associated with infertility in men and women, elevated blood pressure, behavior and brain problems in infants and young children, cancer, childhood obesity, heart problems, and diabetes, among other conditions.
Researchers addressed the BPA scare by developing BPS, yet it seems this chemical has similar negative effects on hormones and your health, as well as possibly contribute to making you fatter. That's because BPS and BPA can leach into your water, other beverages, and food from plastic bottles and food containers lined or made with these chemicals.
Study of plastic and fat cells
A research team from Health Canada, under direction of Ella Atlas, PhD, harvested cells called preadipocytes from the abdomen, hip, or thigh of female volunteers. These undifferentiated cells have the ability to transform into fat cells (adipocytes).
For 14 days, the cells were exposed to various concentrations of BPS or dexamethasone, a chemical that can trigger the formation of fat cells. At the end of the study period, the investigators found that:
- All concentrations of BPS prompted the formation of fat cells
- The lowest and highest concentrations of BPS resulted in the greatest accumulation of lipids (fats), while moderate concentrations were associated with a smaller accumulation
It’s important to note that even exposure to minimal levels of this hormone-disrupting chemical can cause problems with hormone functioning. Since even minor changes to your hormone levels can have a significant impact on a wide variety of bodily functions, such as heart rate, metabolism, and sleep, it’s well worth exploring this issue further.
The authors concluded that “This study shows that BPS and BPA have similar effects on fat cell formation, lipid accumulation and expression of genes important for lipid metabolism.”
How to avoid plastics that could make you fatter
Plastic water bottles are not the only items that can expose you to BPS and BPA. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid these chemicals:
- Instead of plastic containers for food and water, use those made of stainless steel, porcelain, or glass
- Never heat plastic in the microwave, since heat can cause the chemicals to leach out into food and beverages. Similarly, don’t use plastic water bottles, especially if you leave them out in the sun.
- Avoid canned foods as much as possible, as the linings can contain BPA or BPS. Choose fresh or frozen foods instead
- Avoid handling thermal paper, such as cash register receipts
We don’t yet know how much your plastic water bottle and other exposures to BPS and BPA contribute to an increase in fat cells and obesity. However, given what’s been discovered previously about the health effects of BPA and BPS, this latest information seems to support avoiding exposure whenever possible.
Also Read: Plastic plague, fight back
Atlas E et al. Bisphenol S induces adipogenesis in primary human preadipocytes from female donors. Endocrinology 2016 Mar 22 online
WebMD. The facts about bisphenol-A
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